Former President Donald Trump has sued to block the National Archives from handing over any documents that the January 6 commission is seeking. Today, Colin Powell died the age of 84 from COVID-related complications. School issues are shaping the Governor`s Race in Virginia. The right-wing is obsessed with natural COVID-19 immunity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But to people who don`t, that we`re not going to move forward as a society.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And one group of people can`t be the only one who talk about the stuff. Everybody has talked about it. This is American history. It`s not black people. It`s the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s all our problems.
REID: It`s all of our problems. Erika Dilday, Rachel Boynton, congratulations. It`s a great film. You can watch the documentary Civil War, Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC. That`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN. The disgraced ex- president makes his move to stop the January 6th committee. What we know about Donald Trump`s last-ditch appeal to the Supreme Court.
Then, Colin Powell succumbs to coronavirus complications at age 84. And the vaccine misinformation machine kicks into gear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we have a very high profile example that is going to require more truth, more truth from our government.
HAYES: Plus, how dark money groups that catalyzed Obama-era tea party protests are doing the same with school board protests. And why so-called natural immunity still isn`t an excuse to not get vaccinated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would I get vaccinated when you know I have better immunity than someone who`s been vaccinated?
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. For months now, the January 6 Select Committee has been trying to get all sorts of information and documents from the national archivist that keeps the documents of the Trump White House about the Trump White House`s communications leading up to the insurrection.
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has been claiming executive privilege all along even though he is no longer the executive. And even though the current president, Joe Biden, has formally declined to invoke executive privilege to protect Trump`s records from congressional investigators, it is a problem for Donald Trump because he apparently really does not want anyone to get those records.
So, just a few hours ago, the ex-president sued to block the national archives from handing over any documents that the January 6 commission is seeking. The lawsuit was filed by a Virginia lawyer named Jesse Bernal who is representing Trump in four civil lawsuits filed over the January 6 riot. He joined Texas lawyer Sidney Powell in representing Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser and conspiracy theorist, and he represented Trump in an unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to overturn Biden`s victory in Nevada.
Now, this new lawsuit he`s filed on behalf of Donald Trump claims that, and I quote, "the committee`s subpoena is invalid because the committee has no power investigation and it says the material should be protected by executive privilege.
Both of which seem like very hard arguments to make but that has never been a problem for Donald Trump. Filing lawsuits to drag out a dispute so he can win by attrition has been his bread and butter for more than four decades. Now, lawsuits can cut both ways, of course. Today, Donald Trump was actually in New York giving a sworn deposition on videotape because he`s being sued over a 2015 incident during a protest outside Trump tower When trump was running for president.
His then-director of security Keith Schiller is accused of punching a protester in the head when the protester tried to get his sign back. This video is being used as evidence in the lawsuit and the video fairly clear I think.
Here`s another look at that incident. That happened -- that thing you see there happening on video which looks like a certainly a fist connecting with someone`s face in broad daylight in front of everyone, that happened more than six years ago, and kind of a perfect example of the idea that justice delayed is justice denied because here we are six years later and Trump has got a civil deposition over it now.
Now, he might finally face some consequences for what his bodyguard did that day. The question is, will he face any for the insurrection that he also whipped up live on television? Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren represents California`s 19th Congressional District. She`s a former impeachment manager who now sits on the select committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection which tonight is being sued by the former president of the United States.
Congresswoman, welcome. Congresswoman, let me first start and just ask, was this anticipated by the committee that this kind of intervention would happen?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well it`s not a complete surprise although it`s really outside of what the statute anticipates has been mentioned. The President of the United States is not Donald Trump. It`s Joe Biden and Joe Biden has already made a determination that this material should be turned over, that if there`s a claim of executive privilege, it falls before the need of the Congress to get the information.
That`s definitive. There`s case law on it. Richard Nixon tried to make the same case that former President Trump is now and lost. I think this case is a weak one. But as you mentioned, the former President`s M.O. is to file lawsuits and to try and drag things out and to keep things hidden and to escape accountability.
HAYES: Yes, the obvious attempt to sort of delay here, because I think there`s a kind of statutory deadline where basically -- my understanding is the national archives contacted the ex-president and said we`re going to turn these over giving him notice. He then sues. He`s going to try to, I imagine, slow this down.
I mean what are you -- we`re going to talk about Bannon in a second, but what`s the strategy here to make sure that we`re not, you know, dealing with these being turned over six years from now like this deposition about a 2015 incident?
LOFGREN: Well, we will pursue this vigorously but I think the case is a weak one. And we will make our case that really this lawsuit is towards the edge of frivolous and should not be allowed to counter what the President of the United States has already decided which is that this material should be turned over and that`s what the law provides.
You know, I remember when there was -- Richard Nixon tried to keep the tapes from the public. That case rocketed up to the supreme court and was decided very promptly. There`s no need to allow this to go on forever especially since the legal basis for it is so very weak.
HAYES: Yes. There is a little question about do the judges feel some sense of, you know, pacing imperative here or did they let it languish. That`s partly going to be on them and all the way up to the Supreme Court. Three of those members of course were appointed by Donald Trump.
The arguments here to your point about frivolous, it says the legislative committee`s request fails to meet the basic requirement of fulfilling a legislative purpose. The request is not just overly broad, it requests documents including campaign polling data, what does Congress hope to learn from all this. This all does seem more political argumentation than legal.
LOFGREN: That`s right. You know, I just had a chance to read the complaint and I was not overwhelmed by its crafting, let`s put it that way. We`ll see what a court will say, but as I say, the law does not appear to be on the former president`s side. The statute is not on his side. The judgment has already been made by the real president.
And the committee needs this information and a lot more to reach conclusions about what happened and then what we need to recommend legislatively so that this never can happen again.
HAYES: So, Steve Bannon is another individual who is essentially thumbing his nose at the committee`s jurisdiction. We have -- the A.P. obtained a letter from the White House to Bannon`s lawyer basically saying a similar thing what they said in their letter to the national archivist, basically there`s no assertion here.
It says, this point we are not aware of any basis for your client`s refusal to appear for a deposition. President Biden`s determination that an assertion of privilege is not justified with respect to these subjects applies to your client`s deposition testimony and to any documents your client may possess concerning either subject. That`s deputy council Jonathan Su writing to Bannon`s lawyer.
My understanding is that your committee has issued a report recommending contempt a vote on contempt for Steve Bannon. Is that correct?
LOFGREN: That is correct. We`ll have be having a vote after votes tomorrow evening in Washington to consider whether to refer to the Department Justice criminal contempt for Mr. Bannon. His actions here are particularly outrageous. You know, if he has some claim, I can`t imagine what it is, he`s obligated to come into the -- to the committee and make that claim. Instead, he just blew us off that`s really not the procedure.
You know, there`s a lot of things that has been reported that he did plotting with people to really overthrow the constitution. We need to find out about that. That`s obviously not covered by executive privilege.
WATTERS: Yes. He didn`t even work for the White House. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thank you so much for your time tonight.
LOFGREN: Thank you very much.
HAYES: Katie Benner covers the Department of Justice for the New York Times where she`s written about the legal back and forth between the January 6th Select Committee and these former Trump officials. Harry Litman is a former U.S. Attorney and Legal Affairs Columnist for Los Angeles Times where he has called the January 6 Committee the last best hope against GOP lies.
Katie, this -- again not entirely unanticipated, but what does it mean just mechanically in terms of what happens now in terms of this document production?
KATIE BENNER, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Sure. Well, we`ll wait to see what the courts say. As Congresswoman Lofgren pointed out there are some, you know, potential weaknesses in this lawsuit including the fact that it relies on the Mazars case which was really all about Trump being president at the time he`s no longer president. And we know the sitting president has already authorized the release of these records.
So, this might not really be a long protracted court battle. It`s possible the courts could very quickly make a determination and we could move forward. The National Archives is not only producing this set of records for the January 6th Select Committee, it`s also producing a similar set of records for the Senate Judiciary Committee which Donald Trump has not sued.
So you can imagine that production, gathering the records together, putting them together in a package to be sent is going to be -- is going to happen.
HAYES: That`s a -- that`s a really important point. Harry, you know, the people that I trust on this including my wife Kate Shaw who is in the White House Counsel`s Office and just wrote a piece for the Atlantic on executive privilege do not seem bowled over by the legal argumentation presented in the complaint.
But it does seem again that the point here is delay. And I guess to Katie`s point, how expeditiously can we expect us to be treated in which court will be doing the treating.
HARRY LITMAN LEGAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: that`s right and the only play here is a delay. Professor Shaw is quite right that the executive privilege here is extraordinarily weak. But the -- it`s not about executive privilege, it`s only about trying to drag it out.
And you say what court, there`s unfortunately not a really strong accord between the weakness of a claim and how long it takes to go through the courts. There`s a problem that needs to be corrected by legislation. But here you`re talking district court, court of appeals for D.C., the entire court for rehearing. And then up to the Supreme Court, all on the question will there be a stay.
That`s really his play here and that`s the main thing he requests after fanciful plans for relief that could never happen. So this first argument and request for stale be pivotal. If it doesn`t happen, the committee should just and will just go ahead with its work. The archivist will turn things over November 12th unless and until there`s a freeze the music claimed by -- I mean ruling by either the district court or the court of appeals.
Once that happens, everything changes and things go into a sort of time warp that just doesn`t accord with the speed that the committee needs in order to do its work not just expeditiously but politically in time to have an impact by the 2022 election.
HAYES: Right. I mean, and Katie, my understanding now, this is just --this is a file of a complaint. There is no stay that`s been ordered. I mean, right now, the controlling law here from the national archives standpoint, Katie, is that that they`re going to turn it over, right, until the -- until a judge tells them to hold their horses.
BENNER: Yes. And another thing I think -- that`s correct. And another thing to keep in mind too is that what the record -- you know, what the committee is seeking to find out about is what was happening around the election. Because remember, January 6 was an attack on the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power via the election. So, this is all about conversations related to the election.
And presidential power, one of the things -- excuse me, executive privilege, one of the things about executive privilege is that it goes toward the actual work of governing. Campaign activity is generally not considered part of what you are doing in your role as the head of the executive branch.
So, there`s a question about whether or not the conversations that the committee is seeking to understand actually have to do with Donald Trump`s work as president or was it his campaign work.
HAYES: Yes. And just -- I`ve learned this recently just from diving in and again from Kate`s piece, but it`s kind of funny to me, Harry. Like, there`s not a ton of law on this. I mean, a lot of this gets sorted out through mechanisms other than judicial rulings. You know, there`s obviously the big Nixon case. There`s Mazars and stuff like that. But it`s actually sort of new territory legally even if the claims appear weak.
LITMAN: That`s exactly right. Executive privilege didn`t even exist until about 30 years ago. And it rarely came -- push rarely came to shove because there was always a negotiated compromise it`s Trump`s new contribution to the political and legal landscape to basically be completely intransigent and force the Congress to try to litigate in time to actually have the claims not foiled completely. That`s the novelty that has been, so effective and galling over the last few years.
HAYES: Yes. That`s an important point, Katie, just in terms of where we`re at. We are -- this sort of inter-branch struggle is not completely new or novel at all. It`s just that we have seen developments in the Trump administration with the breadth of their claims of executive privilege, the lack of any sort of inter-branch accommodation or negotiated settlement that`s quite novel.
And now, we`re in the same position except with the man in question no longer holding the office of the presidency.
BENNER: Absolutely. And you`re also looking at a unique situation where a former president is saying that the election results were invalid which is something that we have not seen before. And he`s leaning into an architecture that Harry has just alluded to that was built up over the last series of decades to protect executive power, to protect the president by Democrats and republicans neither wanted their person in office to be torn apart by Congress so this architecture of protection has grown and grown and grown. And trump has been able to take advantage of that.
I think when people are frustrated by the pace of what`s happening in the courts, when they`re frustrated with the pace of investigations, you have to look back to the constitution and understand that ultimately though the power to take somebody out of office, to give them power, put them in office actually lies with voters.
And so, as people become more and more frustrated with the pace of investigations or they become frustrated with the fact the investigations are happening and they think they`re witch hunts, keep in mind it all really is about elections at the end of the day.
HAYES: All right, Katie Benner from the New York Times, Harry Litman, thank you both. I appreciate it.
LITMAN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: This morning, Colin Powell, the country`s first Black Secretary of State died at the age of 84 after suffering complications from COVID-19. And almost immediately, the news inspired a new wave of vaccine nonsense. We`ll talk about all of it next.
HAYES: Colin Powell is a singular figure of times. To my mind, he`s one of the most interesting public lives in recent memory. Powell was born with Jamaican immigrants in New York City. He grew up in the South Bronx, actually my home borough. He served 35-years as a soldier, rose to the absolute highest ranks.
And today, Powell died the age of 84 from COVID-related complications. And what you`ll be reading and hearing about a lot I think rightly is how his career was marred as a New York Times put it, by a speech he gave in 2003 at the United Nations where he made the Bush Administration`s case for invading Iraq.
Of course, after the invasion of March of that year, it became clear that Iraq did not have the weapons of mass destruction that Mr. Powell had described in the speech before the world and that much of his argument had been based on faulty intelligence.
Now, Powell was one of the few people involved in that utter debacle and deception to at the very least publicly seek redemption to own up to his role. Speaking at Harvard in 2015, he said, "I regret it. I will always regret. It was a terrible mistake on all our parts."
Powell also reflected on how he was misled ahead of the U.N. presentation only discovering years later that it was drafted by the Vice President Dick Cheney`s office. The crumbling of that deception, the greatest disinformation campaign of its time played an important role I think in putting us on the trajectory to where we are today.
Powell`s family confirmed in their announcement of his death that he was vaccinated. A spokeswoman also said his immune system had been compromised by a cancer called multiple myeloma. And yet, inevitably, with the informational landscape we find ourselves in 18 years after that fateful presentation to the U.N. drafted by Dick Cheney`s office to further their agenda of war, those seeking to discredit vaccines used Powell`s death to further their agenda.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re seeing data from across the world. We`re seeing data from Europe, from the United Kingdom that the fully vaccinated people are being hospitalized and fully vaccinated people are dying from COVID. And here we have a very high profile example that is going to require more truth, more truth from our government and from our health leaders as well.
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HAYES: Another Fox News anchor wrote in a now delayed tweet, the fact that Colin Powell died from a breakthrough COVID infection raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are long term. He did delete that and later apologized, says he`s pro-vaccine -- reporter, not an anchor.
Of course, the context here is that we are experiencing the deadliest bout of misinformation in all of our lifetimes around precisely the vaccine. Much of it coming from the very same network that pushed the lies about the weapons of mass destruction though they were not alone in that.
Here are the actual facts. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, out of the more than 187 million people who are fully vaccinated in the U.S., 0.004 percent of them died from a breakthrough infection. That`s pretty small.
Now, to his credit, Colin Powell repented for the monstrous deception of the Iraq war, but the way he ended up in Iraq -- the way we ended up in Iraq was not some one-off anomaly in American life. It`s actually a key leg in the journey that brought us to today where equally monstrous deceptions about the pandemic are leading to more needless deaths every day.
Michelle Goldberg is an opinion columnist in the New York Times, Mehdi Hasan is the host of the Mehdi Hasan show on MSNBC and streaming on Peacock. Michelle, there was -- there was a moment where I saw the news alert about Powell`s death, and I was -- I was sad and I reflected on his life and back to Iraq. And then i saw that it was from the complications and my immediate thought was there -- he certainly was vaccinated and certainly this will now become a cudgel. And it didn`t take that long for that to bear out.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I think it was obvious how the right was going to use this. And there`s a sort of tragic irony here in that Colin Powell at the time he made that speech to the U.N. occupied a unique role that I think maybe no one will ever occupy again as a validator who was trusted by almost everyone, right?
When he made that speech, it had this impact on American public opinion. All of a sudden, a whole bunch of people, obviously not everyone, but a lot of people who have been skeptical of Bush and skeptical of Cheney said well, there must be something here because Powell is saying it.
And it was the Iraq war had I think a huge role in destroying that kind of trust in any validators that brings us to the place we are now where there is no one you can think of, who could go on TV and say believe me about these vaccines, and it would bring the whole country along.
HAYES: That is such a great point Mehdi. And I think the landscape we find ourselves in is poorer for it, generally speaking, but also speaks to how problematic what Powell was a part of was
MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I`m so glad you, Chris, drew a straight line from the Iraq war to the current covert debacle because there`s a couple of ironies here, one of which is very tragic. The first is that Colin Powell was part of an administration that misled the American people into a war that cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives.
And then today he dies from complications from a disease that spread unchecked through America because another republican administration misled the American people. That`s the first irony. The second irony is, as you point out, the Fox News role here. Because Iraq, as Michelle pointed out, is what really has destroyed Americans trust in the media long before Donald Trump came on the scene. And all media organizations have a role to -- you know have to own up to uh to the role in that including this network.
But Fox was at the center of that propaganda, Republican administration propaganda campaign. A few years ago, Chris, there was a poll that came out which showed even in 2015, 52 percent of Fox News -- Fox News viewers believed that we had found WMDS in Iraq in 2015 compared to 14 of MSNBC viewers, I would just point out. So it`s very important to point out that the same lies that were told about Iraq that were believed on a completely different level by Fox viewers compared to everyone else.
The same thing on coving. You see it with the studies done on Sean Hannity`s viewers at the start of the pandemic. Again and again, Fox News is this misinformation machine, and we go, ha-ha, look how silly they are. Ha-ha, look how eccentric they are. No, people actually die as a result of watching Fox News whether it`s going to war in Iraq or the pandemic.
HAYES: And there there`s something about Powell`s life trajectory. I mean, I think you know, unlike a lot of those folks who are, you know, even I think to this day, George W. Bush is like yes, well, you know, we were heroes in error. That`s the Ahmed Chalabi line that I always remember, we were heroes in error about the Iraq war.
You know, Powell once said we were wrong and was -- and was quite honest about that. And I also think, Michelle, that he -- I mean, when you think about this sort of trajectory of misinformation, I think you know, his endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008 was such a huge moment politically for that someone of that same reason that you noted.
I mean, this was someone who`s sort of a repository of trust, and to me also kind of presaged a certain political tendency of a certain kind of Republican towards essentially the Democratic coalition that we now associate with Donald Trump but in some ways started before that.
GOLDBERG: Well, I think you have a divide among the people in -- who are in the George W. Bush administration, right? Between those who had a really sort of, I don`t know, reverence attitude towards authority, overly reverence attitude towards authority. And that in some sense is carried over to the CIA, to the State Department, all of the institutions that were demonized by Donald Trump.
And then you had people who -- I mean, long before you had those pictures of a muscle-bound Donald Trump on t-shirts and flags and the like, there were very similar kind of drawings of propaganda about George W. Bush. So, you also had a section of Bush people who kind of projected onto him, these ludicrous fantasies about masculinity and who also really loved the idea that as I think Dick Cheney said, we create our own reality. And so, I think you can see that divide in the Republican Party today.
HAYES: The other the other thing here -- you want to say something. Go ahead.
HASAN: I just want to jump in one just before we run out of time, an important point. You mentioned he was honest about his role. I think he was honest about his role with the U.N. speech. That quote from 2015 Harvard is about his regret over the speech.
But let me be clear to your viewers, Colin Powell never ever disowned the war. He defended the invasion until the very end. He never apologized to the Iraqi people. He believed that he was following his commander-in-chief, but it was faulty intelligence. But he never actually disowned the war. I just want to get that on the record.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a really important point. And the thing that I was going to say too about you know, watching this play out in the and the reporting on Powell and sort of disinformation that we find ourselves in, is that you know, also his death is a reminder that there are people who are vulnerable even with vaccination, that there are immunocompromised people, and that actually like this project that we are engaged in which we`ve not done a great job collectively as a people is a collective project for all of us to do our part to keep people safe particularly those individuals who are immunocompromised and there are millions of them and other people who face elevated risk from this.
And to turn around and take oh well, he died and he was vaccinated as this kind of, oh this raises questions, is really kind of awful in a particular way.
HASAN: It`s so horrific and so irresponsible for that to happen so quickly this morning. And by the way, as you pointed out, Chris, it came from the straight news side. It didn`t come from Tucker Carlson`s Twitter account. It came from the so-called Fox News straight news. It`s horrific.
What Fox News has done to encourage anti-vaxxer sentiment in recent months, in particular, is one of the most reckless decisions by a media organization in my lifetime.
HAYES: Yes, I could not agree more. I continue to be astounded day after day and night after night. Michelle Goldberg and Mehdi Hasan, thank you both.
GOLDBERG: Thank you.
HAYES: Just ahead, the dark money group with ties the Koch Brothers is trying to get a Republican elected governor in Virginia by exploiting anger at school board meetings. That amazing reporting after this.
HAYES: As we`ve covered extensively on this show, school board meetings are quickly becoming the latest flashpoint in the right-wing culture war with sustained outrage directed at local leaders on everything from masks in schools, to critical race theory, to LGBTQ rights. And in almost all cases, the outrage tends to be framed as an organic grassroots protest from concerned parents.
Just take a listen to one self-identified concerned parent who has made multiple appearances on Fox News.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a concerned parent. I am not a plant. I am not an activist. And as anyone who knows me, I`ve always been identified as a Democrat.
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HAYES: I am not a plant is a really an amazing thing to say in an interview like that. That man, Harry Jackson is a Virginia parent, that`s true. Fox News left out some important context there as journalist Judd Legum reports in a great new piece today. Jackson is also on the leadership team of a group called parents defending education, a dark money organization first established earlier this year with the goal to "reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas."
And despite calling itself a national grassroots organization, Parents Defending Education has multiple ties to right-wing dark money groups funded by the Koch political operation which has been quietly bankrolling movement conservatism in this country for more than a decade at least.
The founder of Parents Defending Education is Nicole Neily. She`s also the president of another so-called grassroots group called Speech First. And as The Nation first reported back in 2018, that group`s board of directors contains "a former head of a Koch back trust and two conservative attorneys from Koch funded programs."
Before he joined Parents Defending Education, that Fox guest, Harry Jackson, was a co-founder of Coalition for T.J., a different group of concerned Virginia parents who sued to block race-related admissions standards at a Virginia high school. That group is represented in its lawsuit by the Conservative Pacific Legal Foundation which surprise, surprise, received $1 million from the Charles Koch Foundation back in 2019.
All this is important for reasons beyond simple financial transparency. This sort of thing happens. There absolutely is very real organic outrage from parents towards school boards over many of these issues. The anger is being both stoked and channeled by Republican politicians and operatives and their allies and right-wing media and these dark leaning groups.
Just look no further than the Virginia governor`s race where Republican Candidate Glenn Youngkin tried to make the election a referendum about standing up to school boards. Just listened to him earlier this year speaking to Harry Jackson`s group of concerned parents.
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GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Parents have come together all over the commonwealth in order to stand up against school boards. We must find a way to elect conservative voices to these very, very important seats.
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HAYES: The connections surrounding this concerted organized grassroots effort against school boards with the reporter who untangled it all next.
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CROWD: You work for us! You work for us! You work for us! Hear our voice! Hear our voice! Hear our voice!
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HAYES: That chaotic scene at a 2009 town hall for Congresswoman Kathy Castor is one of many protests that unfolded across the country in response to the Affordable Care Act as the tea party turn from a grassroots movement into a political juggernaut. But tonight, we know it wasn`t activists alone who fueled that transformation. Groups like Americans for Prosperity funded by billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch amplified the tea party through dark money.
As writer Jeff Nesbit wrote in time magazine in 2016, the Koch brothers have almost certainly spent or raised more than a billion dollars to successfully bend one of the two national parties in America to their will. The long rise of the tea party movement was orchestrated, well-funded, and deliberate.
We`re now seeing a similar phenomenon play out in these school board meetings across the country. A leaked letter obtained by the Washington Post shows how a Koch-backed group has fueled opposition to school mask mandates. A new report from the political newsletter Popular Information reveals how local school board issues in Virginia are being weaponized by Koch-backed groups in an attempt to swing the governor`s race in Republican`s favor.
That piece was written by the founder and editor of Popular Information Judd Legum and he joins me now. Judd, it is striking how similar the tea party -- the tea party protests of 2009 are to a lot of what we`re seeing the school board. They have very similar vibes. In some cases they have the same people involved and the same organizations. What are these organizations? Who funds them? What are they up to?
JUDD LEGUM, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, POPULAR INFORMATION: Well, a lot of that we don`t know the answer to, and that`s by design. The main organization that you talked about in your intro before the break parents defending education was only founded in March of this year. And we won`t know even the limited information that you can learn about a non-profit like that won`t be available for two plus years, and that`s not a mistake.
Now, what you can do is you can look at the people involved and you can look at what their history is. And as we know, the person who`s in charge of the Parents Defending Education which is the primary group operating nationwide but specifically in Virginia focusing on the Glenn Youngkin race has extensive uh contacts to the Koch organization, really has spent our entire career working for Koch-linked and Koch-funded organizations so you can put two and two together and figure out what`s going on.
HAYES: Yes, and I want to be clear. I mean, this is not -- you know, this is not some sort of conspiracy and it`s not astroturf, it is political -- it`s what political organizing looks like. I mean, it is -- you know there is some anger on the ground. There`s a lot of focus on this in right-wing media. And then, these groups come in particularly in the right. They use dark money more than often than not. To essentially like mold and shape and sustain and cultivate and push this agenda is interesting to me that this is where they have landed on school boards and not just with one issue but sort of across a variety of different issues.
LEGUM: Well, that`s true. Not everyone who is going to these school board meetings is a paid operative. Now, some of them who are appearing on TV and presenting themselves as run-of-the-mill parents are in fact paid operations. That`s what the guy learned in the course of this reporting. But there are parents who are genuinely concerned about critical race theory and other issues whether or not that`s accurate.
But I think what this is really, and I think that the tea party analogy is apt, it`s a rebranding of the MAGA movement. It`s a lot of the people who were upset about these cultural trends and it`s now repackaging it. And this is especially important in Virginia where Glenn Youngkin is seeking to mobilize that same constituency of voters without invoking Trump`s name and without alienating the conservative voters who might be turned off by Trump.
And that`s why we see this playing out in northern Virginia which is the key battleground for the Virginia governor`s race.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a really good point that essentially that this is like politically useful for this very specific reason particularly in the Virginia race where again this has been a key part thing that Youngkin has been banging on about that you don`t want to alienate voters with too much Trump, too much MAGA iconography because it`s a state that Joe Biden won by 10 points, but you want to marshal that sort of grassroots rage.
And so this becomes a convenient way to do it in this new shell and we`re seeing, you know, it becomes essentially a proxy for the Youngkin campaign. We`re seeing polling -- CBS said that 62 percent of people said Virginia school curriculum on race and history will be a major factor in how they vote which I think is a testament to how effective some of this organizing has been.
LEGUM: Yes. And Youngkin is leaning into this. His main ad or one of his main ads that`s on repeat on cable television online is based on an attack that originated out of the school board. He will be appearing tomorrow in Fairfax County to talk about these issues and parents` rights.
This is really the closing argument not only for Youngkin but for candidates, Republican candidates down the line. They think that this is a winning issue. The point that I was trying to uh expose, or the issue that i was trying to expose is that a lot of these issues are contrived in that they don`t reflect a real change in the school system, they really reflect a real change in political strategy whereas a lot of these things were just happening, they were considered nonpartisan. It was just the administration of schools are now being charged and really put under a magnifying glass in a way that is intended to extract maximum political benefit and that`s what we`re seeing.
HAYES: Yes. What is really fascinating -- I mean when you look at the -- you know, the McAuliffe line he said about vetoing a bill that -- around sort of curriculum and books had to do with an LGBTQ book I believe. And then you`ve got the, you know, the sort of critical race theory moral panic and then the masking stuff.
At some levels, like, there`s not really a real conceptual connection between like the masking and the critical race theory. These are distinct issues one has to do with like public health and the suppression of a viral respiratory infection among children. The other has to do with like very profound and deep political questions about our history.
The fact that they`re -- they`ve both been the targets sort of tell you something about what`s driving this more than like the individual issue itself.
LEGUM: Yes. And really what`s motivated this latest controversy in Virginia are two books. They were actually award-winning books. They do depict some sexually explicit same-sex, sexually explicit material but they`ve been around since 2019. They`re coming up now and they`re being viewed as -- they`re being used as an attack, a false attack on terry McAuliffe for vetoing a bill he did in 2016.
So, we`re picking whatever issues we can from whatever time period, we`re putting them all together and we`re seeing what sticks. They managed to get a sound bite and that`s what`s really driving the closing of this Virginia gubernatorial race as we enter into the closing weeks. It`s really been remarkable how successful this effort has been.
HAYES: Judd Legum, great reporting. Thank you very much.
LEGUM: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, what you need to know about so-called natural immunity. Why it isn`t an excuse to skip getting vaccinated. That`s next.
HAYES: As we reported last week, one of the anti-vax candidates for governor of Texas, Republican Allen West ended up hospitalized with COVID. Today, we are happy to report he`s out of the hospital, has recovered from this infection. But while he was still in the hospital, he tweeted something that caught my eye. "I now have natural immunity and double the antibodies. And if you`ve been paying attention to Republican politicians, the right-wing media, you might notice that natural immunity has become a sort of buzz term. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): The mandate is overbroad as well. It makes no accommodation for instance of people who have had Coronavirus and who have natural immunity.
BRIAN KILMEADE, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Look at the fact that they refuse to take in natural immunity even though more and more studies are showing it`s probably better than the vaccine.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): The fact that this ministration won`t recognize natural immunity in these mandates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is infinitely preferable to have natural immunity than vaccine immunity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would I get vaccinated? Why would I get vaccinated when you know I have better immunity than someone who`s been vaccinated?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The argument they make is essentially if you get sick with Coronavirus and survive, your immune system produces antibodies. And so, the logic follows that if that`s the case, why do you have to get a vaccine on top of that. And I`ve been following this discussion. It actually made me think, wait a second, what does the science say about what vaccines do for people who recover from Coronavirus? How necessary is it for them? And which last longer, vaccination or antibodies from an infection?
To get the bottom of that, I want to talk to Dr. Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist, Senior Director of the Special Pathogens Program at New York Health and Hospitals system. So, Doctor, let`s sort of start with the top line about what we know about the immunity conferred by having gotten through about of COVID and the immunity conferred by the vaccines.
SYRA MADAD, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, first, you know, I think we`re not talking apples to apples. So, there`s a big difference. The first one, we talked about natural infection, you know, generated from COVID-19 infection. First, you know, getting infected itself, you`re putting yourself at risk for severe disease, hospitalization, and death. That`s not even talking about the potential of long COVID.
So, first when you have natural infection, it is very variable to person to person and that`s two things that I`ll point out. First, it`s actually generating a robust immune response, and the second is the strength and durability of that immune response, and how long that will live.
So, first, we focus on generating that immune response to people that are naturally infected, it differs from person to person. There`s a lot of variability. It depends on the severity of the illness. It also depends on the immune system and the response that it generates.
The second aspect of it is durability of the thing. And that varies, you know, between age and health status. And so, there`s a lot of, you know, unpredictability with natural infection. And that`s not to say that individuals that have natural infection don`t have a robust response. You know, we have seen that.
Some studies have shown that 10 to 36 percent don`t even convert, meaning they don`t have a long term response, you know, immune response. So, that`s, that`s concerning.
HAYES: Yes, there`s so -- that`s -- I mean, my understanding to the point you said that -- so, there`s a huge chunk of people, a really significant chunk, and again, the data here goes all over the place that do get COVID, who come out of it, and don`t really have the presence of the antibodies that you would anticipate and expect. So, they`re not really immunized as far as we know.
And then there`s a really question -- there`s a question about how long they last. And what do we know about how long -- if you do create these antibodies in your body, like how long that lasts versus the vaccine?
MADAD: The longevity of, you know, our immune response, you know, is one of those things that we`re still finding out both with natural infection and with vaccination. But the one thing to note is that with vaccination, you can boost your immune response safely to have a better -- you know, a robust immune response and to counter, you know, the central infections.
With natural infection, you can`t boost that, right? So, that means you`re going to have to naturally get reinfected again. And no one wants to go through that for the reasons I mentioned, because you`re risking a lot there. It`s like playing a game of Russian roulette. There`s a big gamble right there.
HAYES: Yes, that -- this is a key point. I want to sort of give the top line to this one Nebraska medicine health system study that was published. More than a third of the COVID infections resulted in zero protective antibodies. Natural immunity fades faster than vaccine immunity. Natural immunity alone is less than half as effective as natural immunity plus vaccination.
So, there`s two points that seem to be important there. There`s actually as far as we can tell an additive effect if you`ve had COVID of also getting vaccinated in terms of the total level of protection you`re getting, whereas the argument being made you saw with Joe Rogan and others there is like, well, why do I need it because I`ve already got it?
To the best that we can describe, it seems like there`s actually a cumulative positive effect to get vaccinated. Is that the -- is that our understanding right now?
MADAD: That`s correct. It`s unfortunate that natural immunity is being politicized, just like massacre flip sides, so it`s really unfortunate. But, you know, the bottom line is that vaccination is the safest way to build that immune response without risking illness, infection, and disease.
And if you`ve had natural infection, you get -- a COVID-19 vaccine, you have an even better immune response. I`m actually in that category. I was, unfortunately, naturally infected last year. And you know, I -- you know, and I`m fully vaccinated, so I have a pretty, you know, robust immune response. So, you know, a really great data on that as well.
HAYES: Well, so there`s a very interesting point here that I want to make, right? What you`re saying, and what a lot of people in public health are saying is that there`s this -- there`s something sort of insidious in this idea of like natural immunity, because the way that you get natural immunity is you get COVID.
And what we`ve seen a little bit is the old sort of like chicken pox party idea. In fact, there`s even people who have cited that, right? Like -- and Dennis Prager who was on the microphone saying, I have COVID right now, and that is infinitely preferable. The kind of logic that they`re actually propounding is like, it`s OK to get COVID, and then you`ll get it, and you`ll get natural immunity. And actually, we let the things spread.
And that`s precisely the sort of herd immunity idea we saw from Scott Atlas, the Trump advisor that was so disastrous in terms of guiding policy here in the U.S.
MADAD: That`s exactly right. It`s really unfortunate that this is a -- you know, the debate that we`re having again, and again. And the science really speaks for itself right now in terms of which one is better, which one is giving you a more predictable and reliable outcome.
You know, through natural infection, you`re risking a whole lot, not just yourself, but you know, for the community. The one point that I`ll make is that a lot of these studies that we`re seeing first, they were pre-Delta. So, Delta was definitely a big game changer here in terms of the infection as well.
But as we`re looking at, you know, the studies that were conducted, a lot of them are looking at the survivors, right? They`re not looking at the people that died. Over 700,000, you know, Americans died of COVID-19. So, they`re basing it on survivors. And that also is variable as well.
So, if we look at just the number of people that have died, I mean, that`s majority through natural infection. So, that`s speaking volumes right there.
HAYES: Right. The classic example of survivor bias right there. I guess the final -- the final point here would just be that there`s a sort of either collective reason, a policy reason, but even at the individual reason, there`s very -- there`s good data suggest that if you`ve had COVID, getting vaccinated make sense. It boosts your protection against reinfection and also provides a comprehensive way to boost immunity in the future that is just, you know, a natural reinfection.
MADAD: That`s absolutely much more reliable. It`s much more durable. And as we learn more, we`ll probably see the longevity of our immune response. And you`re able to boost more, you know, in case that`s needed. Right now, obviously called that protecting against severe hospitalization and death.
HAYES: All right, Doctor Syra Madad, that was very helpful. Thank you very much.
That`s all for ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.